Kobe tower at night

Kōbe (神戸市; -shi) is a city in Japan, located on the island of Honshu. Kobe is the capital of Hyogo prefecture and is one of Japan's major portss. It is in the Kansai region of Japan, in Hyogo prefecture to the south-west of Osaka, and was one of the first cities to open for trade with the West, as of 1868. The cosmopolitan port city has a population of 45,500 foreign residents from more than 100 countries.

Kobe is a modern city by Japanese standards: the port area is dominated by the red steel Kobe tower. A giant ferris wheel sits in Harbor Land, a notable tourist promenade, and offers spectacular views of the surroundings including the bay area, especially at night.

As of 2003, the city has an estimated population of 1,513,967 and the density of 2,755.77 persons per km². The total area is 549.38 km².

Motomachi arcade and Kokashita arcade are well-known retail areas in Kobe. Other less central areas include Sannomiya and Nishinomiya. Nankinmachi is Kobe's Chinatown, and is particularly lively at night.

Mt Rokko overlooks Kobe with an elevation of 931 metres: during the autumn season, Mt Rokko is famous for the rich change in colours of its forests. Mt Rokko is also the site of Japan's first golf course, established by the Englishmanman Arthur Gloom in 1903.

Kobe is also home to Kobe University, which traces its roots back to 1905.

On January 17, 1995 an earthquake measured at 7.2 on the Richter Scale occurred at 05:46am JST near the city killing more than 5,000, making 300,000 homeless and destroying large parts of the port facilities and other parts of the city. It was one of the most costly natural disasters in modern history. The earthquake notably destroyed the Hanshin Expressay, an elevated freeway which dramatically toppled over: within Kobe, the earthquake is known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake (or the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake).

Kobe is also famous for its Kobe beef, the Arima Onsen (hot springs), and the expensive and elite Ashiya district (the haunt of wealthy yakuza).

The city was founded on April 1, 1889.

Kobe skyline from a harbour cruise boat

See also: Kobe City Subway, Hankyu Kobe Line, Kobe Airport.

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